The Hunger Solutions Institute at Auburn University recently received a gift totaling $315,000 from the Ichigo Foundation in support of its Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs (ACCBN) food security initiative.
Three years of graduate student support, funded with $265,000, will lead 15 Alabama community colleges in launching and facilitating the food security initiative on their campuses. The University of Montevallo and the University of West Alabama, four-year universities which recently joined ACCBN, will also be supported with the additional $50,000.
“The Ichigo Foundation is honored to support ACCBN, the University of West Alabama and the University of Montevallo,” said Janel Callon, CEO and co-founder of the Ichigo Foundation. “As the coalition has identified, food insecurity forces far too many students to interrupt or end their studies. Alabama community colleges, the University of West Alabama, and the University of Montevallo are taking action to protect and support their students, serving their needs and their futures.”
In addition, Callon said students will benefit not only because they are more food secure but because they know their universities care for them in the most fundamental way.
Campus Food Insecurity
Access to adequate nutrition can be a problem among college students. ACCBN strives to make college student food security a priority on college campuses and aims to cultivate a strong statewide network to help eliminate college student hunger. The food security initiative also supports strategies to ensure access to healthy, affordable foods so students can succeed in higher education.
ACCBN unifies institutions of higher education to implement a systematic framework to improve healthy food access for all students. Members of the coalition, comprised of four-year Alabama universities, are Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Auburn University, Jacksonville State University, Troy University, Tuskegee University, University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of North Alabama, University of South Alabama, University of Montevallo, and University of West Alabama.
Bradley Fricks, director of academic affairs with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS), said the system and its colleges are excited to join ACCBN’s network.
“In ACCS, we continually strive to focus on the student experience, and this is another great opportunity for us to meet students where they are to ensure their basic needs are being met,” Fricks said. “Ultimately, we all want our students to be successful in reaching their academic and career goals, and the partnership between ACCS and ACCBN will certainly help us achieve that mission.”
Through leadership of a basic needs coalition on each campus, the scope of food insecurity and available resources will be determined and will guide development of a campus-specific action plan.
“Food insecurity is a reality for many college students throughout our nation, including many students within our own state. The University of Montevallo is privileged to partner with the Hunger Solutions Institute and Auburn University to address and combat food insecurity by joining forces through the ACCBN campus food security initiative,” said Tammi Dahle, University of Montevallo vice president of enrollment and student affairs.
Data collected by ACCBN will shape best practices among Alabama universities and colleges in pursuit of hunger-free colleges and universities. With the help of Hunger Solutions Institute and Auburn University College of Human Sciences graduate research assistants, universities are evaluating their activities based on changes in food insecurity prevalence, campus resources, and student outcomes.
“The Hunger Solutions Institute is committed to supporting organizations from all sectors, including education, in devising and scaling innovative, data-driven solutions to hunger in the U.S. and beyond,” said Alicia Powers, managing director of the Hunger Solutions Institute. “We are thrilled to receive additional funding to expand ACCBN to two-year colleges throughout Alabama.”
The Hunger Solutions Institute’s first statewide initiative, End Child Hunger in Alabama, established ACCBN, facilitated by Auburn Associate Professor of Nutrition Onikia Brown. It seeks to unify colleges and universities throughout Alabama to ensure students’ basic needs are met, thereby empowering all students to succeed in school, earn degrees, and open doors to opportunity.